Re-imagine your Scrum to firm up your agility

Many of today’s enterprises are hardly fit to play a leading role in today’s world. They are designed on the past-world premises of stability and high predictability, of repetitive work with easily scalable results. They experience profound difficulties having to navigate the predominantly uncertain and unpredictable seas of today’s world. An increase in agility is needed. They adopt Scrum. Rather than updating their past-world structures while introducing Scrum, they twist Scrum to fit their current organization. No more than an illusion of agility is created as a result.

Imagine they would re-imagine their Scrum and re-emerge their organization to firm up their agility…

Organizations, certainly if they have been around for a while, grew into very complicated and extremely interdependent internal structures. These structures are often the root of the problems organizations seek to resolve by adopting Scrum. Work is essentially seen and organized as assembly line work. Many bodies, meetings, hand-overs, resources, deliverables, processes and departments are required to produce and deliver even the smallest chunks of work.

Organizations naturally revert to familiar recipes when facing the need to become more Agile, including mass-production and cascaded approaches, separate transformation projects, copy-pasting what other organizations do or blindly following blueprint prescriptive models.

Individuals are grouped into ‘teams’. The teams are ‘coached’ into complying with standard sets of practices and processes, unified Sprint lengths and electronic process tools. This is uniformly done across the whole organization, regardless business domain, expertise or technology at play.

The existing organizational constructs are not touched, or touching them is cleverly obstructed, if not sabotaged. Teams (often micro-sized) are typically established within existing departments or other forms of functional separations. Higher-up optimizations, like synergies across teams and departments, are ignored in the same way they were before. The systemic disconnectedness that used to inhibit collaborative problem solving between individuals now inhibits collaborative problem solving between micro teams.

More Agile teams does not make a more Agile organization.

Practitioners worldwide turned Scrum into the most applied definition of Agile. Despite Scrum being the new reality, most organizations continue struggling with Scrum. They struggle as they think teams can be constructed. They struggle as they try to map Scrum’s accountabilities on existing functions. They struggle to understand that inspection without adaptation is pointless in Scrum. They struggle to understand how Scrum can wrap a variety of practices, allowing each expression of Scrum to be tuned to a specific context without fundamentally altering the framework. They struggle to re-invent their organization around Scrum to inject agility in their internal structures, although this will ultimately be reflected in their business outcomes. Organizations lack the imagination to picture how Scrum can work for them, mentally blocked to think beyond their current set-up.

Can you imagine Scrum being employed as designed and intended, regardless your current organization? Do you have the will to deeply reflect? Go back to the ‘why’ of your Scrum? Face your clear and apparent urgency? And take action? Recover, reboot, re-imagine?

In order to firm up their agility, courageous seekers re-imagine their Scrum to start re-emerging their organization. They leave behind past attempts, choices and approaches (all that didn’t work). Over-ambition, magnitude anxiety and deflation angst are mitigated by downsizing to small again and subsequently growing iterative-incrementally. They go through incredibly hard work when they:

1/ Re-consider what the ‘product’ is for the implementation of Scrum (or select another clearly bounded and meaningful initiative). Slicing the initiative if it is too BIG.

2/ Re-imagine Scrum for the selected product/initiative/slice.

    • Use Product Backlog as the single plan, holding all development work, whether technical, functional or non-functional. Establish what it means for product Increments to be releasable.
    • Reset the accountabilities to Product Owner, Scrum Master(s) and Development Team(s), full-time dedicated to the initiative and optimizing for the whole rather than for titles, positions and utilization. The eco-system, this newly established Scrum zone, is facilitated with tools, infrastructure and space.

3/ Create coherent, small and tasteful sashimi releases, no later than by the end of each Sprint, through a controlled and automated deployment pipeline.

Repeat.

Courageous seekers take a few Sprints before expanding to a next product/initiative while still improving the existing initiative(s) and relentlessly removing all impediments to the envisioned state of product delivery. Is an environment in place where people are willing to demonstrate the undiluted accountabilities of Scrum? Are teams self-organizing toward delivering releasable Increments providing start-to-finish value, no later than by the end of a Sprint? Are the teams fully equiped with all skills needed, a dedicated team space, all tools, infrastructure and authorizations?

It takes quite some persistence and belief to keep fighting the past-world tendency to control individuals. Remind yourself (or welcome others reminding you) that value is in the outcome of the work, not in the volume produced. At the Sprint Reviews, consider the value a team has potentially created in a Sprint, and align with them on what seems most valuable to work on next. Move away from judging individuals for their hours spent on individual tasks. Team Engagement is the key.

People who are engaged actually care a lot more about customer outcomes and profitability.

Continue re-thinking your internal constructions as initiatives grow, new initiatives spin up and start delivering value. Solve further organizational issues and inadequate policies as you run into them. Start re-emerging the organization upon conscious acts of re-imagining Scrum; funding, HR policies, rewards and incentives, governance, quality assurance, sales and marketing, legal and regulatory compliance. Unleash a way of working that will sometimes lead you to quite unpredictable destinies.

It is hard work. It is a path of learning, experimenting, falling and getting back up. It is transforming how you work, not adding work and complexity to what you already do. It is gradually re-merging your organization towards a networked system of self-sustaining product hubs. A product hub grows or shrinks as needed (following product ambitions and market needs). A product hub is added or disappears as needed (when spinning up or exiting a product). Embed the empirical approach of inspection and adaptation in your managerial practice and in your organizational set-up.

Use Scrum to grow Scrum.

 

Re-vers-ify (re-imagine your Scrum to re-vers-ify your organization)

Agility is why organizations adopt Scrum.

Organizations suffer as they fail to act with agility through product releases, on the market, for users and consumers, facing competitors. Scrum is mandated and it is overlooked that the agility demonstrated outwardly also depends on the setup of internal structures.

Organisational rigidity is the result when people are separated in functional silos, when collaboration is instructed through hand-overs and governance, when go-see management is not practiced, when the daily work has no room for discontinuous innovation. Basically, such rigidity is the anti-thesis of Agile and impedes outward agility.

Scrum is a simple framework for complex product delivery. Scrum thrives on the self-organizing capabilities of collaboractive people creating finished versions of product in short cycles, called Sprints. Scrum is in itself agnostic of internal structures, positions, titles, hierarchies. Scrum has no mandatory rules for organisational constructs. Scrum is simple, not easy. The simple rules and roles of Scrum are most often twisted and broken to fit an existing organization. Yet, it is nearly impossible to benefit really from adopting Scrum without updating the internal operating systems.

The sensible and courageous way forward is to re-vers-ify, to re-imagine your Scrum to re-emerge your organization. It is a path, not the destination. The destination, an updated organization, is unknown, remains to be discovered.

  • Use Product Backlog as the single plan for one (1) meaningful initiative (project/product/service). Slice the initiative if it is too big.
  • Reset the accountabilities for the selected initiative to Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team(s).
  • Facilitate the eco-system with tools, infrastructure and a (Scrum) team zone in order for them to create sashimi releases. A controlled and automated deployment pipeline is certainly a much needed step forward.
  • Repeat, grow, learn, expand.

“Re-vers-ify” is a narrative to help people re-invent their organizations; an invitation for people to re-imagine their Scrum to re-vers-ify their organization. Over the course of 2017 I have introduced re-vers-ify in several ways. I have now highlighted the essence in a short movie. It takes only slightly over 3 minutes of your time. Enjoy!

If you have more time to spend, consider reading my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide (A smart travel companion)“. It ends with following belief:

Introducing re-vers-ify to the PMI Poland

wywiad z ekspertem od Scruma, Guntherem Verheyenem, który opowie o podejściu organizacji do wprowadzania zwinnych metod pracy

I was invited for the 4th Annual PMI event in Wroclaw (Poland) on 19 May 2017 to do the opening keynote. I introduced the narrative of “re-vers-ify” (re-imagining your Scrum to re-vers-ify your organisation).

During the day I was interviewed by Paulina Szczepaniak about “re-vers-ify” for the international PMI magazine.

If you want to read more about re-vers-ify, download the full magazine at the Strefa PMI website, or here on my blog. Find my article on page 32.

A daily Scrum Master BONUS podcast on re-vers-ify

The conversations I had with Vasco Duarte about Scrum, Scrum Masters and Scrum Master challenges were broadcasted in the week of 17-21 April 2017.

As an extension Vasco asked me to clarify the ideas I had expressed as “re.vers.ify“. Our conversation has been broadcasted on 21 May 2017 and is NOW AVAILABLE at the Scrum Master Toolbox website.

In “re.vers.ify“ I have consolidated over a decade of experience, ideas, beliefs and observations of Scrum and organisational transformation through Scrum (or the lack thereof). Re.vers.ify is an act, an act of simplicity, rhythm and focus. Re.vers.ify is a way for people to re.imagine their Scrum, and deliberately re-emerge the structures of their organisation. Re.vers.ify helps people and organisations shape the third Scrum wave.

 

Attending Scrum Days Poland (and opening the second day)

Soulmates and keynote speakers Scrum Days Poland 2017On 5 and 6 June the 3rd Scrum Days Poland take place, check out http://www.scrumdays.pl.

The people’s rebel Tobias Mayer opens the first day, about #trueScrumMaster. I am honoured to open the second day of the event. I will introduce “re-vers-ify“, an act of re-imagining Scrum to re-vers-ify your organisation. Both Tobias and I have workshops on the second day.

Check out https://guntherverheyen.com/events/ to know at what other events I am sharing ideas.

Re.vers.ify (essential introduction)

By the end of 2016, Co-learning organised a webinar about “Re-thinking the organisation”. I feel humbled for sharing my views next to those of the other presenters James Priest (Sociocracy 3.0) and Jürgen De Smet (founder of Co-learning and collaboration architect).

I introduced “re.vers.ify“, the consolidation of over a decade of experience, ideas, beliefs and observations of Scrum. In the recording of my part you will find a fair, 15-minutes summary of my essential and current thoughts and drivers:

Re.vers.ify is an act, an act of simplicity, rhythm and focus. Re.vers.ify is a way for people to re.imagine their Scrum, intentionally emerge a Scrum Studio and -ultimately- re.imagine their organisation.